No company can afford to lose sight of its brand. Just as regular medical appointments are essential for our sake and well-being, our companies need check-ups as well! The good news for your business is: you can determine its diagnosis, find weak points and discover the cure. But, only when you know where to look. It’s time for a brand audit!
Anyone can get outnumbered by the competition. When it’s hard to keep our heads above the water, one thing that could save our company is the brand’s authenticity. But building our desired and distinctive imprint is a task that requires various revisions. We need to learn more about our target audience and continually adapt our market behavior, appearance, and marketing strategies.
What is a brand audit?
As the custodians of our brands, we know the company’s vision and what it stands for. Yet, how do we know if the market perceives the brand in the right way? If we could look at our company from the customers’ perspective, we would benefit from it. Our strong points and possible mistakes would become clear to us. Luckily, we can collect a significant part of those answers by conducting the brand audit. So what is the brand audit? It is a process that aims to assess the company’s position in the market, compare its business moves to its competitors and evaluate the efficiency of the company’s strategy.
The brand audit seeks to determine how well the company’s communication meets the previously set goals. Performing a brand audit helps you find a direction in which you should head. It’s instrumental in the unwished scenarios: when the business faces a decline in sales and profits or the loss in previous market positions. A brand audit can determine the corrective measures to flat iron the possible flaws.
And we would wholeheartedly recommend you do a brand audit if you’re thinking about rebranding. After all, it is always wise to check in with your customers what they see as the hearth of your business and the most distinctive feature before you go on changing it.
Read more: Pros and Cons of Rebranding
Why your company needs a brand audit
It is confusing to make business decisions in the world of rapid change. Yes, you have opted to be agile and let the company evolve as the market evolves. You incorporated necessary changes and adapted to the upcoming business atmosphere. Yet, at one point – you will need to press pause on everything and see if your brand identity is still undamaged.
There are many reasons why you would be a perfect candidate to conduct a brand audit. Most businesses moving forward face the problem of their branding identity and the reality of their company going in different ways. The situation is clear: Your brand no longer represents you in an optimal way. It’s a natural process to happen, especially after the businesses merge or the divisions are sold. On another note, the problem doesn’t have to be inside the company – maybe your audiences changed! The message of your brand needs to be tailored to show your values and address the audience’s concerns. Yet, if we take a certain generation as clients, such as millennials, it’s important to remember that their concerns will change – so should your brand messaging.
We move forward to another situation – your company is in a competitive market and your rivals just have too similar products and marketing. If your customers are having trouble in setting your company apart from the other competitors – call 911. Or conduct a brand audit! Anyway, if in any case, you were fortunate to experience rapid growth of your business, you will most definitely need to define or redefine your brand. With the influx of new customers, it’s imperative to establish a strong base, which can be done through the process of a brand audit.
How can you audit your company’s brand?
The brand audit might appear quite daunting at first. Nonetheless, upon a closer inspection, a brand audit comes down to a few important steps. First, create a framework. Write down the following:
- The purpose and use of your website
- Main competitors
- Target market
- Product/service strengths/weaknesses
- Market positioning
- Current and anticipated industry trends
Once you’ve jotted down the answers to these questions, proceed to the next step.
Review your website and web analytics
Start with the visuals: the look of the website, the design and all the messages you’re broadcasting. Do these messages mirror the brand values? Are the stakeholders interacting with the website on a desirable level?
Once you answer these questions, it is time we dig a bit deeper into your website analytics. There are several things you need to pay attention to.
- Bounce rate. A high bounce rate indicates that there’s something about your website that makes people go away quickly.
- Origin of traffic. If you’re focused on a particular geographical region and most of your traffic is coming from places outside of it, your strategy needs to be adjusted.
- Pageviews. Which type of content is the most valuable to the readers? Look for the content that brings the most conversions and analyze why.
- Conversion rates. Have you achieved the goals you’ve set? In other words, what is the proportion between the number of visitors to the rate of goal conversion? If this number is not where you’d want it to be, it is time you do something!
- Source of traffic. The best outcome would be to realize that various sources are leading the clients to your website. If that is not the case, try to devote to diversifying the sources. That way, you will be immune to sudden changes in algorithms and drops in social reach.
Survey your customers and employees
The opinion of our customers, as well as people responsible for contributing to our product or service, is a pot of gold itself. This invaluable pool of insight can provide the answer to many of our business dilemmas. Who knows the product/service better but the customers and employees?
You can get really creative in collecting the qualitative data. Anything from online surveys, to running polls or questionnaires. There are also ways to conduct data in a less traditional way. How about the mystery shopper technique? We can sometimes run into examples of companies sending their employees in disguise to stores, to check how the customers are treated. This approach can be implemented for the purpose of brand audit: a randomly picked team could test the functioning of the website, find the weak points in the usability of the user interface.
Have you heard of sentiment analysis? It’s a useful tool to give you an overview of public opinion around your brand. You will instantly find out which features captivated your customers’ hearts and by which they weren’t so impressed. This can be determined through mentions (positive, negative, or neutral). One of the companies which provide such services is Brand24.
Assess your marketing materials and social media channels
This step is a frosting on the cake! It can provide understanding about a customer’s opinion that is unreachable through other sources. One example is social media monitoring – the act of monitoring social media information for the data that’s relevant to our business. It’s a great hack for keeping an eye on key social media metrics such as brand awareness and social share of voice, or for measuring the return on investment (ROI). For example, you might want to know about brand mentions, relevant hashtags, mentions of competitors, or general trends, and you can do so by using some of the tools providing this service. Our favorite ones are Hootsuite, Google Alerts, and Mention.
As the brand evolves, so should your marketing materials. In order to obtain panoramic visibility into your brand marketing, it’s best to gather all of your company’s marketing materials. Anything from advertisements, brochures, business cards, social media write-ups, to email taglines. But that’s not it! Include your invoices, envelopes, logo-imprinted letterhead. And to finish it off, add your blog posts and web posts. In order to get a widespread view, we recommend to print anything that is in digital form (only once and recycle afterwards if we can kindly ask) and lay everything out on the large table. Look for any inconsistency in the language, tone and quality of the written content, as well as the colors and quality of photographs and illustrations on marketing materials. Understanding how brand visuals are being (ab)used can help you develop tools to develop consistency throughout your internal and external communication.
You’ve done it! What now?
Well first, take a sip of your favorite drink and congratulate yourself! That small step for you can be a giant leap for your business, so you just might have saved the day. After the initial joy following the completion of a brand audit, it’s time to gather all information and create an action plan. The newfound insights should not be kept untackled, so try to group the information into relevant fields and set goals based on the findings. Prioritize the issues that align most with your overarching goals. Don’t forget to create a timeline for the achievement of those goals, so you could know if the transition process is running smoothly.
One last thing: collect all the material you obtained during the process. This should include your action plan and all the conclusions from your brand audit. Now store it in a safe place. Brand audits are a continuous and recurring process. So the files from your previous audits will be invaluable for the next brand audits you undertake. This way, you can monitor the whole process, evaluate the progress, and hopefully enjoy the sight of your company flourishing!